The Hundred and One Dalmatians by

Not long ago, there lived in London a young married couple of Dalmatian dogs named Pongo and Missis Pongo.
Dodie Smith - The Hundred and One Dalmatians - c.1956, 1991

Life for Mr and Mrs Dearly and their dogs, Pongo and Misses, is going well. They live near Regent’s Park in London and are very comfortably well off, Mr Dearly having helped the government out with its sums, he doesn’t really have to worry about money any more. But one day they bump into an old school-friend of Mrs Dearly, Cruella De Vil, and she takes quite a shine to Pongo and Misses. She loves their wonderfully spotted Dalmatian coats, and when the dogs have puppies she becomes even more interested.

One day returning home from a walk the Dearlys and the Pongos are distraught to realise their fifteen puppies have disappeared! Stolen!

Mr Dearly at once offers a reward, but the dogs are not prepared to sit around and wait for their “pets” to find their puppies, they get the news out on Twilight Barking and pretty soon learn where the puppies have been taken to. Then they are off to Suffolk to rescue them.

The Hundred and One Dalmatians by Dodie Smith

The Hundred and One Dalmatians by Dodie Smith

To be honest I’m presuming that the majority, if not all, of you are well aware of the plot of Dodie Smith’s novel. Perhaps more from the Disney films than the books, but most people know all about Cruella De Vil and her plans for Dalmatian fur coats.

I would say I haven’t read this book in more than twenty years, if not longer than that, but as I was reading it I could remember it all so well. Every new dog that made its appearance was an old friend. I have no idea how many times I read and reread this book as a child. I know it was a lot.

But my familiarity with it did nothing to lessen my enjoyment of it. I simply love this book. Smith’s way of telling the tale is just such a delight to read. And while the gender roles might date this book quite a lot, I can’t see any reason why a modern reader wouldn’t enjoy this book. Especially if they were a dog lover. And Cruella, although not on stage a huge amount, is a wonderful villain. The threat she poses looms over the dogs and the whole story the whole way through. If you get a chance you really should pick up this classic and give it a go. If only for the illustrations. They are simple, black and white, but so effective.

This is my first book for this year’s Once Upon a Time reading challenge, it may not be an old folk tale or fairy tale, but it has that wonderful fairy tale atmosphere that I think is such a part of OUaT. Plus, you know, talking dogs really is fantasy fiction :)

Other reviews : Seven Miles of Steel Thistle ; Pamelibrarian
Once Upon a Time Review site

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6 Responses

  1. lynnsbooks says:

    What a lovely review. I also read this years ago – I must admit that I don't do a lot of rereads these days but it would be interesting to see what I make of it now.
    Lynn :D

    • fence says:

      I don't reread all that much any more. I must do more of it because it is great to revisit an old favourite/friend :) The only problem is sometimes they just aren't as good as you remember. But for the most part its lovely

  2. I read this years ago, and I'm afraid it's all gone blurry–except the lovely illustrations! I may be due for a reread though…
    My recent post Feuding Magical Families in Caprona

    • fence says:

      A lot of books go blurry on me, but not this one ;) as I said I reread so many times as a child that I couldn't possibly forget it. I never read the sequel though. I must see if I can find it at some point.

  3. Priya says:

    I loved this movie!! Still do, and who doesn't adore dogs? But I've never read the book. This really makes me want to!
    My recent post Disney's Beauty and The Beast

    • fence says:

      Strange people! that's who doesn't adore dogs. You should see if you can find this one, there are plenty of editions out there.